Ph.D. candidate discusses Latinos’ religion

Janelle Polcyn

In a talk about how the religion of Latinos effects their political views, Alicia Reyes-Barrientez presented her research for consideration for the 2016–2017 Carlos E. Castaneda postdoctoral fellowship on Wednesday.

“In the poli-sci literature, there is only one article that looks at the politics of religion in this group,” Reyes-Barrientez said. “There’s very few articles that look at Latino evangelical protestants. Most of the literature … assumes Latinos are Catholic. We know that that’s not true. This research is the first direct comparison of Latino evangelical Catholics to Latino evangelical protestants — a comparison of their differences and political attitudes.”

Reyes-Barrientez’s work is breaking new ground, said Domino Perez, director of Center for Mexican American Studies.

“People tend to think about Latinos as a homogeneous group, for example, that all Latinos are Catholics,” Perez said. “Alicia’s work is exciting because it calls attention to the diversity of Latino experiences in the U.S., particularly as they relate to religious practices and political beliefs.”

According to John Moran Gonzalez, associate director of CMAS, committee members look for candidates with research that shows potential for an excellent future scholar. A committee of five people chooses three finalists from the 30 initial applicants. Reyes-Barrientez, from Duke University, was the second candidate to present her research to the committee and a group of faculty and students. A fellow will be chosen after the final presentation, which will take place Feb. 10.

“[The final candidates] have been coming in to give talks and presentations like the one [given] today in order to allow the community some input into who might be the best fit,” Gonzalez said. “Who gets chosen could have a big influence. Therefore, we think it’s important for the campus community to have a chance to be able to have some say in the postdoctoral fellow.”

The Carlos E. Castaneda postdoctoral fellowship gives recent doctoral students the opportunity to pursue their research and teach a related undergraduate class.

“The postdoctoral fellow will be here for one year,” CMAS program coordinator Luis Guevara said. “Each one of the presenters has to talk about their research and also what will they teach and how will they teach it.”

Reyes-Barrientez said UT is her first choice.

“[UT has the] CMAS and the location and the opportunity to enhance my research by working with numerous scholars here, who specialize in things like ethnography and Latino studies, gender, etc,” Reyes-Barrientez said.